Number-one middleweight contender, Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa is just sixteen days away from his first UFC title challenge, when he meets undisputed kingpin, Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya in the curtain-closer of UFC 253 in the promotion’s return to ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
A rivalry with some key-moments littered throughout the last twelve months or so, Adesanya and Costa pits two of the most dangerous strikers in middleweight mixed martial arts today, with one of the two set to drop their eye-catching undefeated records.
The pair are fresh from unanimous decision wins over Yoel Romero, with Adesanya outpointing the Cuban in his first title defence in March this year in an unmemorable matching – while Costa narrowly took home a judging win opposite the Olympian in August last year, over three rounds.
Speaking with South China Morning Post MMA recently, Costa, who’s shown some massive power already in his brief UFC stint – plans an eventual stoppage of City Kickboxing ace, Adesanya – but won’t force the issue particularly early.
“I don’t want to just beat him very quickly,” Costa explained. “I want to bring some entertainment to the people. I hope we can go into the second round and then I think he will break then.“
A second-round stoppage for Costa would see the continuation of a trend for the Minas Gerais native, who’s scored knockout wins over Oluwale Bamgbose, Uriah Hall, and former welterweight champion, Johny Hendricks all within the second frame. Forced the distance for the first time in his promotional run opposite the above noted, Romero – the 29-year-old believes he proved some of his doubters wrong in their August tie.
“After I beat (Yoel) Romero, I am certain that people who had some doubts about my skills, they changed their minds,” Costa told. “People started to believe I was the really, real deal, just not another guy who can fight. In the right moment, I grew up. under the high pressure, I grew.“
Continuing to dissect his win over American Top Team standout, Romero – the Brazilian explained how he displayed his overall growth in the pairing, as well as showcasing his defensive wrestling skills.
“The fight with Romero was a real war,” Costa said. “I am so proud of that fight. It was very important for me. The guys that I work with made me lift myself to another level. I came from Jiu-Jitsu, and I became a very good boxer but against Romero, I think I proved I can wrestle as well. He tried to take me down and I managed to avoid the takedowns and that came from the work my team had done with me. That showed I could fight for the belt and that’s why I am so confident right now. I will become the new champion.“